Jupiter & Saturn
|Apparent diameter (arc-sec):||34.2″||15.6″|
|Equatorial Diameter (km):||142,984||120,536|
|Distance from Earth (light minutes):||47.96||88.58|
All eyes are on the Western sky for the next six weeks as Jupiter and Saturn edge slowly towards each other. When I took this image last night, the apparent gap between the two planets had narrowed to 1° 54′ and both of them fitted very comfortably inside the field of view of my 200mm camera lens.
In a few days time they will fit into my telescope field of view. That’s if the clouds disperse – and I don’t have much confidence about that!
By 21st December the gap between the two will be as narrow as 6.5 arc-minutes.
Here is a table of the angular separation distances (in arc-minutes) during this approach, as seen in the early evening here in Sydney:
To add to the attraction, between 7th and 14th January the planet Mercury will whiz closely past Jupiter and Saturn at a relatively fast rate. It will be at magnitude -0.9, (midway in brightness between Jupiter and Saturn). I’ll be trying to spot this event, although it will be very low in the sky.
On the 10th January, Mercury will form a close triangle with Jupiter and Saturn – and four days later a young crescent Moon will also be in close attendance. However, a clear Western horizon view will be essential because by that time the planetary conjunction will be only just above the horizon immediately after sunset.
Cameras at the ready!
Details of Feature Image
|Image date: 2020-12-04|
|Exposure: 200mm lens, 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO640|
|Imaging camera: Canon EOS 6oD|
|Software processing: DPP & Gimp.|
|Observatory location: 34° South.|
Images © Roger Powell
I’m a founder member of Macarthur Astronomical Society